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Cowboy trends: Then and now

Tayler Teichert for Progressive Cattleman Published on 02 October 2017

As an older Nevada gentleman thumbed through a dusty stack of faded photographs from yesteryears, he asked me what I noticed about the photos.

“Is it the lack of fences in the backgrounds?”


“What about nobody being on their cell phone?” I joked.  

Again, nope.

Relieving me of my struggle, he hinted to look closely at the hats. There was not a single flat-top hat in the bunch – they all had traditional cowboy crowns. 

Confused, I asked him when cowboys in the Great Basin started shaping their hats with a flat-top crown? He said that it stemmed from the Easterners who came out West to live the cowboy dream. Their style soon took over, and now when someone is spotted with a flat-top cowboy hat – they’re pegged as a Nevada buckaroo. 

Gazing at one of the photos, the man remembered a cowboy who showed up for his first day on the job with a double-rigged saddle ... which would prove to be double the fun his first morning of saddling in the dark. 

“I tried talking him into taking the back cinch off, but he wanted to do it his way,” he laughed. “I decided to sit back and watch. He got saddled and crawled on in the dark and as soon as the 5-year-old ranch gelding felt that second cinch on his belly, that horse snapped in two.” A single-rig saddle used to be all the rage, but the trend soon shifted to double-rigged saddles. 

While living in the Great Basin during my adult life, I have gradually noticed fewer people with the telescope crown and the ever so popular, slick-fork saddle. More and more cowboys and cowgirls are opting for the cattleman crease and a saddle with swells. 

Is this shift in taste a result of wanting to be different from the imitators, or is it too a result of different ranch styles sifting into the Great Basin? I’ve even seen a few single-rigged saddles making their way back into the area.  

A lot of gear preferences are actually quite functional for the area they come from, but no one says you have to buy Arizona Bells to a cowboy in the Southwest, or a flat hat to live in the Great Basin.

I love seeing my friends in Montana sporting Arizona Bells and my Idaho friends with their boots shot-gunned. The ranching community sure can be cliquey, but when I see cowboys from different areas embracing each others’ styles and trying them out, I think it unites us all a little bit.

People watching is one of my favorite things to pass the time; when I’m with friends, we place bets on where we think people are from based on their style. Then, one of us has to go strike up a conversation and find out where they really come from. It’s getting harder all the time with all the different styles blending.

Style is an interesting thing to strive for. As soon as you think you’re the “in” thing, there will be a trend shift, and you’ll be left with something that is so last week. Might as well not be a trend chaser; decide what style suits you and your area and rock it.

Whether that be tied off on a roping saddle with split reins and an aerodynamic-looking hat, or a wade saddle with a 4-inch post horn, a flat-brimmed palm leaf and too tight of 501s. Your gear represents you; use what you like. If you stick to your own taste, eventually the trend will make a full circle and you’ll be in style – at least for a week or so.  end mark

Tayler Teichert, a 24-year-old sixth-generation rancher, was born and raised ranching across the American West. Since she left home, she has worked in the Sandhills of Nebraska, the shadows of Elk Mountain, the high desert of Idaho and the sage of northern Nevada. In her writing and photography, she documents the action, beauty and everyday life on the ranch while working as a full-time ranch hand. You can learn more about Tayler and check out her photography on her website.

PHOTO: A northern Nevada cowboy crew "back in the day." Photo provided by Tayler Teichert.